Irritable bowel syndrome: When the gut-brain axis is disrupted

Anyone suffering from non-specific abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea more than once a week for more than three months should definitely have these symptoms clarified by a doctor and other intestinal diseases ruled out. Was entered in the gastroenterological practice irritable bowel syndrome diagnosed, the first step in therapy is to keep a food diary. In this way, possible food intolerances can be identified, which the affected person should then no longer eat.

In many cases, a FODMAP-reduced diet also helps. FODMAP is the English abbreviation for “Fermentable (fermentable) Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols”. It is a group of carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are difficult for the small intestine to process. The patient should only eat sweets, wheat bread, dairy products, stone fruit, cabbage and industrially produced foods in moderation. This diet is best formed as part of a treatment plan by a physician and should not be attempted on its own.

Disorder of the gut-brain axis

In the long term, irritable bowel syndrome can be alleviated well with probiotics such as lactic acid bacteria and yeasts. Which basic form of nutrition is suitable for patients with intestinal problems should be clarified in a consultation at the pharmacy or with a doctor. Vegetable stomach drops can also have a positive effect on the intestines. However, some stomach drops contain small amounts of alcohol and are not suitable for everyone. Furthermore, relaxation exercises such as yoga can contribute to a healthy intestine.

If the change in diet is unsuccessful, the doctor can clarify the psychological connection between the intestines and the brain. The intestinal nervous system is also called the “gut brain” because it consists of a network of nerve cells in the intestinal wall and controls digestion independently. The abdominal brain communicates with the brain via nerve fibers, immune cells and messenger substances. If this exchange of information is disturbed, one speaks of a disturbance of the gut-brain axis. This then leads to permanent intestinal problems, but also to stomach problems, discomfort, upsets and, in the worst case, a withdrawal from social life.

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How can the local pharmacy help with irritable bowel syndrome?

The pharmacy team will first determine whether gastroenterological or psychological examinations have taken place. In addition, it is asked which symptoms are present in order to to choose the right one from different means. Peppermint tea and peppermint oil, which have an antispasmodic effect, help with mild symptoms. The oil is available in capsules that pass through the stomach and are transported to the intestines where it works. Furthermore, herbal remedies based on fennel, caraway or anise help, which also have a relaxing or bloating effect.

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